A speech by Viktor Orban proclaiming that he wanted to prevent Hungary from becoming a “mixed-race” country triggered outrage at home and abroad, including a surprise resignation from his party.
The Hungarian prime minister's remarks to supporters in Baile Tusnad, Romania, over the weekend railed against a “flood” of migrants being “forced” on the country.
While Orban has in the past made similar comments on immigration, this instance brought denunciations from Romania's foreign minister and a leader of Hungary's Jewish community. Zsuzsanna Hegedus, a long-time Orban ally and adviser in his government, tendered her resignation with a strongly worded condemnation.
“I don't know how you didn't notice that your speech you delivered is a purely Nazi diatribe worthy of Joseph Goebbels,” Hegedus, referring to Adolf Hitler's chief propagandist, said in a letter published by the hvg.hu news website. The speech would have appealed to the “most vile racists,” she wrote.
Orban rejected the accusation, saying that his government has “a zero tolerance policy on anti-Semitism and racism.”
Andras Heisler, the leader of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities called for a meeting with Orban to “avoid the escalation of public debate.”
“The prime minister's choice of words goes against the practice that gave security to the Jewish communities,” Heisler said.
In the past, Orban's ruling Fidesz party have been accused of anti-Semitic rhetoric, including for using campaign billboards targeting Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros, an Orban critic who finances pro-democracy and civic initiatives across the former communist bloc.
Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu also criticized the remarks, in which Orban painted a bleak picture of an ideological struggle between “post-Western values” and traditional “Christian” beliefs, which he says are at risk of being snuffed out in central and eastern Europe.
“It is regrettable that such views are being spread from Romania,” Aurescu told Digi 24, calling Orban's views on race “unacceptable.“
In his speech, Orban decried the European Union's efforts to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and wean itself off of Russian energy supplies.
He added that Hungary wanted to stay out of the war in neighbouring Ukraine and predicted that Russia would win because it held “an asymmetric advantage” and won't be swayed by sanctions.
Nato and the EU — Hungary is a member of both — were taking "huge risks" by supporting Kyiv, he said.